Viewing cable 06JAKARTA1649
Title: NEW DRAFT RELIGIOUS DECREE WOULD EASE REQUIREMENTS

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
06JAKARTA16492006-02-08 10:35:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Jakarta
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PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #1649/01 0391035
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 081035Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9117
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 8949
RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY PRIORITY 2939
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE PRIORITY 3072
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 0547
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RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
XMT AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 001649 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SECSTATE FOR EAP/IET AND DRL 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/08/2016 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KJUS KIRF KISL ID
SUBJECT: NEW DRAFT RELIGIOUS DECREE WOULD EASE REQUIREMENTS 
FOR HOUSES OF WORSHIP 
 
REF: A. A.05 JAKARTA 14621 (DRAFT DECREE WOULD CONTINUE 
 
        TO DISADVANTAGE MINORITY FAITHS) 
     ¶B. B.05 JAKARTA 14281 (CHARGE LOBBIES SENIOR 
        MINISTER) 
 
JAKARTA 00001649  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
Classified By: CLASSIFIED BY POLITICAL OFFICER LISSA MCATEE, REASON 1.4 
 (B) AND (D). 
 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
¶1. (C) Indonesia's latest draft of the joint ministerial 
decree on the establishment of houses of worship, if 
approved, would ease requirements compared with earlier 
versions (ref a).  While Christian religious leaders are 
still dissatisfied with the requirement of 90 members and 70 
supporting signatures from the community, Hindu religious 
leaders argued that the reduced requirements reflect the 
effectiveness of negotiations between religious leaders and 
the government. On January 31, government officials and 
religious leaders presented the latest version of the draft 
joint-ministerial decree to President Susilo Bambang 
Yudhoyono.  Yudhoyono reportedly said that presidential 
intervention in the negotiations would be inappropriate and 
that religious leaders should continue discussions until all 
sides were satisfied.  End Summary. 
 
New Version Reduces Requirements 
-------------------------------- 
 
¶2. (C) We obtained the most recent draft joint-ministerial 
decree from A. Benny Susetjo (protect), Secretary General of 
the Catholic Bishop's Conference of Indonesia (KWI), who was 
one of the participants in the negotiations between religious 
leaders and the government (two religious leaders from each 
of the five officially recognized religions participated). 
In contrast to previous drafts (ref A), the new version no 
longer requires recommendations from four separate community 
forums but instead requires recommendation from one community 
forum and the Department of Religion at the District level, 
plus signatures from 90 future members of the proposed place 
of worship and 70 signatures from supporters in the immediate 
area where the house of worship is to be built. 
 
Christians Remain Concerned 
--------------------------- 
 
¶3. (C) Susetjo told us that Muslim religious leaders 
originally wanted 100 required members but that the 
Protestant religious leaders only wanted 60.  The result was 
90, leaving the Protestants, who typically operate within 
smaller parishes, dissatisfied and the negotiations in 
deadlock.  Susetjo anticipated that the draft, if formalized 
as currently written, would justify further church closures 
and disadvantage minority religions. 
 
Hindus Accepting 
---------------- 
 
¶4. (C)  Nengah Dana and Agus Mantik, both leaders in the 
Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia organization, told us that 
the new draft decree was an example of religious tolerance 
and what can be achieved when the government solicits input 
from religious leaders.  According to their interpretation of 
the current draft, there is an "escape clause" that allows 
any religious group which does not have the necessary 90 
members to obtain 70 signatures supporting the establishment 
of the new place of worship at the sub-district level. 
Failing that, the draft allows religious groups to obtain any 
additional necessary signatures from the district level. 
Dana and Mantik emphasized that there was equal 
representation of all five religions at the negotiations and 
that such negotiations were historically unprecedented.  They 
also predicted that this draft would clarify procedures and 
thereby reduce religious conflict. 
 
President Decides Not to Intervene 
---------------------------------- 
 
¶5. (C) On January 31, members of the committee negotiating 
the draft presented the draft to President Yudhoyono and 
asked him to resolve the disagreement over the required 90 
 
JAKARTA 00001649  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
members and 70 supporting signatures.  Susetjo told us that 
the President refused to involve himself by saying that 
government intervention on religious issues should be minimal 
and suggested continued dialogue between the religious 
leaders and the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of 
Religion until a consensus is reached.  Susetjo said that he 
regretted the President's unwillingness to resolve the 
disagreement and predicted that the result would be a long 
delay in formalizing a new decree.  Dana, Mantik and Chandra 
Setiawan, Commissioner responsible for religious freedom at 
the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas Ham), also said 
it was impossible to know when the new decree would be 
formalized if the President did not intervene. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
¶6.  (C) As written, the latest draft of the joint-ministerial 
decree leaves much open to interpretation to guarantee that 
minority religions will have equal opportunity to establish 
new places of worship.  However, even when read with a 
pessimistic lens, the new draft appears to be an improvement 
over previous versions which put the power in the hands of 
multiple unaccountable community forums.  We will continue to 
urge GOI and religious leaders to adopt an approach that 
safeguards and promotes religious freedom, including for 
minority faiths (ref B). 
 
PASCOE